Aztec gets a big chance to prove it is still a force to be reckoned with in 4A in a top 10 matchup tonight.
The No. 6 Tigers (2-3) host No. 9 St. Pius X (3-3) tonight in Aztec’s final non-league game of the regular season.
“St. Pius is a great football team and it will be a big test for us to see where we are as a team and to see how we are continually growing as a team,” said Aztec head coach Matt Steinfeldt after the team’s 57-17 win against Del Norte last week.
After falling at home to No. 8 Farmington by eight points a week ago, the Sartans will be fired up to travel to Aztec to face another District 1-4A team in the top 10.
Farmington was successful forcing St. Pius turnovers and limiting the running game of both Sartan quarterbacks.
Tonight will be another good test for Aztec’s run defense that has improved each week of the season so far.
Aztec has traditionally had no problem scoring on St. Pius. As the Tigers’ offense continues to grow together as a unit, quarterback Adam Lucero is finding more time to throw from the pocket.
Aztec’s running game has also improved each week with credit going to the offensive line for creating some holes.
Lucero has plenty of weapons to throw to, whether it is Brad Hardin split out wide or Cody Rinerson and Ryneal Lewis-Adams out of the slot and backfield.
If Aztec’s offense can generate some early momentum, the familiar feeling of beating the Sartans should set in as the defending 4A state champion Tigers look for their first back-to-back wins of the 2012 season.
Lucero still believes this Tiger team can repeat as champions despite their rocky start. He knows the team will have to win its final four games and win district to earn a good playoff seed, and it all starts with a win tonight in the second to last home game of the year.
“I still firmly believe we are the best team in the state,” Lucero said. “The goal hasn’t changed. We are going out there to try to win state. Going into the playoffs we want to be 6-3, and I know we can do it.”
No. 8 Farmington at 3A No. 5 Bloomfield
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Bobcat Stadium
Listen live: 1390 am
What to watch: Fresh off a big road win in Albuquerque, the Scorpions are ready to extend their winning streak to three games down the highway in Bloomfield tonight.
But the Bobcats won’t go down easy tonight.
Bloomfield struggled against Farmington during District 1-4A games in recent years, but the young Bobcats are growing every week just like the Scorpions.
Bloomfield has hung tough with 4A competition such as Grants and Miyamura this year, but sporadic mistakes have hurt the Bobcats’ chance to win.
At 2-3, Bloomfield is hoping to follow a loss to Miyamura with a win this week, just as it has all season.
“We have won and lost and won and lost. It has been going back and forth like that. But we are playing good teams and coming up short in the end,” said Bobcats head coach Bruce Hatch. “We play a good Farmington team this week.”
Farmington head coach Gary Bradley knows the Scorps can’t get caught looking ahead to District 1-4A games just yet.
“We won’t look past Bloomfield. They are always tough to play,” Bradley said. “They have some great athletes we can’t look past.”
Farmington is trying to move to 5-2 overall and the Scorps need to make sure they get a win because they know every district game will be tough with Aztec and Piedra Vista both in the top 10.
Look for the Scorps to get the running game going early while Bloomfield will stay balanced out of the spread shotgun.
If Bobcats quarterback Bobby Lyon can find a way to make some plays against the Scorps’ tough secondary, it could be a tight contest in Bloomfield.
No. 25 Capital at No. 18 Kirtland Central
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Bronco Stadium
What to watch: Homecoming night in Kirtland should be a joyous occasion for the Bronco faithful.
No. 18 Kirtland, fresh off of two consecutive wins, hosts 0-5 Capital, the lowest ranked team in New Mexico 4A football.
In fact, the Jaguars from Santa Fe have scored only three points all season, coming last week against 3A St. Michael’s.
Meanwhile, Capital has allowed 229 points to opposing teams such as Clovis, Valley, Gallup and Robertson.
Gallup beat Capital 35-0, so if you believe in comparing scores, this one weighs heavily in favor of Kirtland after the Broncos beat the Bengals 28-20 a week ago in Kirtland Centrals’ home opener.
Though it doesn’t make sense to have a homecoming game after hosting a home game the week before, the Broncos should expect a big win in this one.
Kirtland’s defense will look for its second shutout of the season tonight as the Broncos look to improve to 3-3 overall this season,
After three dissappointing losses to begin the year, the Broncos have found great success in the running game behind backs Jerrid Smtih, Alex Kamae and Rashaan Sorrelhorse.
No. 13 Shiprock at Questa
When: 2 p.m., Saturday
What to watch: A long road trip awaits the Shiprock Chieftains, and it will be a longer one home if the Chieftains can’t beat 1A Questa.
Questa (2-1) is facing its toughest opponent of the season in Shiprock (3-2). Questa is riding a two-game win streak with victories over Cuba and Dulce, but Shiprock has had two weeks to prepare for the Wildcats.
Chieftains head coach Don Story has been thrilled with the production of Hiram Gleason, who has bee unstoppable at times this season.
Whether Gleason is coming out of the backfield or out wide catching passes, Questa will have a long day trying to contain him.
Adam Begaye has thrown the ball well this year at quarterback for Shiprock, but Gleason and halfback Alex Benally have also been effective throwing half back passes for touchdowns.
Wesley Martin, Tristan Mike and Collin Begay have all run the ball with authority as well, and Story expects to have at least one more weapon back in the lineup when a player returns from academic ineligibility this week.
Story knows this is a big two week stretch for the Chieftains, who travel a long way to Escalante again next week before beginning District 1-3A games.
Every win the rest of the way is crucial for Shiprock if they want to make the state playoffs, but winning the district over Wingate, Thoreau and Bloomfield still figures to be the only way Shiprock reaches the state tournament for a third consecutive season.